Service without peer

Roz Blades, after being announced as an AM recipient in 2013. 100486 Picture: MEAGAN ROGERS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

The first thing many tell of you of Roz Blades AM is her legendary tireless work for the community.

To the shock of many, Ms Blades suddenly resigned after a stellar 32 years as a Springvale and Greater Dandenong councillor on 10 October.

And the tributes have rarely been more glowing from community leaders, colleagues and politicians – many who spoke of how inspired they were by her example.

Greater Dandenong living treasure Merle Mitchell referred to her contribution as being matched by few in the area’s history.

Perhaps just as rarely, she is also a “person who doesn’t have an agenda”, says Noble Park-Keysborough Rotary Club’s Keith Maxwell.

“Most people in public life have an agenda behind the scenes but that wasn’t Roz.

“She was there for the community.”

Aside from her council service, Ms Blades is a Paul Harris Fellow for her voluntary work as community service director at Noble Park Rotary Club.

She is also a life member of charity Springvale Benevolent Society and a part of countless groups, schools, sports clubs and committees.

Her service on the council is known for her tireless advocacy on social housing, public transport, asylum seekers stripped of income and multiculturalism.

But she was also known for taking up the cause for any resident, no matter who they were, councillor Zaynoun Melham said.

In 2013, Ms Blades was duly awarded with the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) – an award “thoroughly deserved”, councillor Matthew Kirwan said.

Most councillors when receiving such honours receive the lower-ranking OAM. “But no one questioned why she got an AM rather than an OAM,” Cr Kirwan said.

“That’s because people knew how outstanding a councillor that she had been.”

On 10 October, she expressed her “greatest regret” at tendering her immediate resignation due to ongoing health issues.

“I believe this decision is in the best interests of our city as I am not able to perform to the best of my ability and to the level which the council and its constituents should expect.”

She described her 32-year council career as an “honour” and a “wonderful, proud and fulfilling journey”.

“I know I have given the role my best and hopefully leave having been part of making the city one of the best in Australia.

“Greater Dandenong is a great city and a great Council and I am proud of what we have been able to achieve for the most multicultural city in Australia.

“I have been honoured to have served the Councils, first Springvale and then Greater Dandenong and wish everyone well for the future.”

For more tributes to Roz Blades, turn to pages 12-13

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